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No. 22/22 Butler Bulldogs Defeat Xavier, Secure No. 2 Seed in BIG EAST Tournament

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The #22/22 Butler Bulldogs traveled to Cincinnati on Sunday, February 26 to face the Xavier Musketeers. Junior F Kelan Martin led the Bulldogs to a fourth consecutive win with a game high 25 points in the 88-79 win. The Bulldogs improve to 23-6 (12-5 BIG EAST) while Xavier falls to 18-11 (8-8 BIG EAST). The result also secured Butler the No. 2 seed in the 2017 BIG EAST Tournament.

“This is a really tough place to play, so to come out of here with a win speaks to our guys and our play down the stretch,” said Butler Head Coach Chris Holtmann. “Players win games, and our guys came up big today. We have to get better defensively, but we did get some key stops during that final run.”

The first half was a back-and-forth battle that featured seven lead changes. Freshman G Kamar Baldwin hit a jumper at the buzzer to give Butler a 38-37 halftime lead.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Butler Junior Forward Kelan Martin

The beginning of the second half was much of the same that featured an additional 10 lead changes. Trailing 71-69 with 5:43 to play, Butler scored 15 of the next 18 points over the next four minutes. The run included a Kelan Martin three-pointer that gave Butler the 74-71 with 4:48 to play. During the decisive run, Butler made six of its nine attempts and had four steals that keyed several transition baskets. Baldwin (five) and redshirt senior G Kethan Savage combined for all nine of Butler’s steals.

The Bulldogs shot 54.8 percent (34-62) from the field, including 33.3 percent (8-24) from three. Butler also shot 85.7 percent (12-14) from the free throw line. The Musketeers finished at 48.2 percent (27-56), including 34.8 percent (8-23) from three. Xavier shot 77.3 percent (17-22) at the charity stripe.

Kelan Martin led the Bulldogs with 25 points and seven rebounds, hitting 9-15 shots from the field, including a 3-6 performance from three. Sunday marked Martin’s tenth 20-point game of the season and the 25 points were his best performance in a BIG EAST Conference game this season. All 25 points came off the Butler bench for Martin.

Baldwin had 17 points, five rebounds and three assists. Senior F Andrew Chrabascz had 11 points and a team-best six assists. Seven Bulldogs scored at least eight points.

Xavier was led by Trevon Bluiett‘s 21 points.

Butler is now 2-5 against Xavier at the Cintas Center, picking up its first win in Cincinnati since Dec. 23, 2008, when the class that included Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack were freshmen. Sunday’s win caps a week that also saw the Bulldogs win at #2/2 Villanova, ending the Wildcats‘ 48-game winning streak at The Pavilion.

The Bulldogs have a week off before the regular season finale, which is a Saturday home game against Seton Hall. The 2:30 p.m. tip will air nationally on FOX. A Senior Day recognition for the team’s six seniors will follow the game.

Chris Fultz is a Senior Writer for the Indiana Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler Athletics and has full media access. Follow @CafultzISR and the @IndySportsRep on Twitter.

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